UPDATE: House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders of Key West and state Sen. Arthenia Joyner \, D-Tampa, came to the defense of Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer, a Republican, Tuesday urging the governor to retract his threat to remove him from office for failing to comply with the governor's early voting schedule.
Also criticizing Gov. Rick Scott was Rev. Charles McKenzie, the state coordinator of the Rainbow Push Coalition.
"Rick Scott is still attempting to circumvent the voting rights act, play political theatre and achieve the obvious purpose of the Republican agenda; suppress the black vote,'' McKenzie said. "Every move he makes is completely disingenuous, mean spirited and calculated."
Here's Saunders' statement:
“As the House Democratic Leader and the State Representative for the Florida Keys, I am proud of the work of Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer, a Republican with a great deal of respect among people of all political persuasions and a long history of solid public service.
“I wholeheartedly support the position that Supervisor Sawyer has taken in recent days to achieve more early voting opportunities for residents in the Keys. I strongly urge the governor to clarify or retract any remarks that would suggest he would remove the supervisor, who is set to soon retire, for simply carrying out his constitutional duties and responsibilities to voters.”
Here's Joyners' statement:
“Republican Governor Rick Scott’s actions and implied threat to remove the Monroe County Supervisor of Elections - who he considers an obstacle to his voter suppression goals - are a slap in the face to all people who believe in free and fair elections. And he continues to govern as if the state is his very own Florida Inc., and he’s the CEO.
“Following the 2000 presidential election fiasco, Florida had made great strides to become the poster child for ensuring that every vote was counted by enacting and promoting early voting. Now, it appears Governor Scott is doing everything in his power to undermine those changes. “His actions today mark another chapter in the ongoing saga of the Republicans in America to suppress the vote of Black Americans and other minorities who they fear support the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates.
“Our hard-fought right to vote should not be used as a political football to get somebody elected to office. And it’s unconscionable that in 2012 we should be subject to such tactics that hark back to the oppressive era of Jim Crow.
“Governor Scott should be ashamed of himself. And I’m ashamed of the message he is sending the nation and the world that elected officials purporting to represent all the people – not just one insular group or ultra-conservative mindset – would stoop this low to suppress the Constitutional rights of Black Floridians and other minority citizens and their ability to cast a vote.”